Ireland 2002

Leinster, Ireland

October 13th, 2002

Sunday - Mullinavat to Inistioge

Passing The House of the Rising Sun at milking time. Bon and friends. Entering Derrylacky Forest. A hedgerow. Bon ambles up a farm lane. Think it's going to rain? This is your short cut? Smug satisfaction. Destination Inistioge.

We awoke to a knock on our door at 7:30 a.m. Breakfast was briefly interrupted as cows were being marched down the main street for milking. Our hostess told us that Bon's companion of the previous night was known as The Bishop. (She commented that he was difficult to understand!) She offered to make us sandwiches, and we played with Sasha, a darling five month old Yorkshire Terrier, as she made them. I paid for the room and sandwiches (€ 51) and we started off in a light rain and I quickly donned my poncho. We walked east on the main road and through a railroad overpass on the right and on to a narrow country road passing farms with rolling hills in the background. We saw one farmer but mostly were in the company of cows and horses. We did pass one monument to a parish priest that was erected in 1861. We almost missed a right which took us uphill – past Crowbally where we chatted with a cowherd whose dog was concerned about us.

We proceeded uphill into the Derrylacky evergreen woods. As in Maine, the forest floor was covered with moss. After a long gradual climb we descended to a road turning right at a radio tower which marked the continuation of the trail. Here we saw a little brown bird with a rufus patch over his eyes, beak and throat which sang a beautiful trill of notes from the tops of young spruce trees.

The trail diverged from the road onto a boreen (path) which crossed to another road. This led downhill around a corner and collection of buildings called Glenpipe and to a delightful country road with walls and trees on both sides. The road opened up onto green fields with a hill beyond. We crossed the small Arrigile River and continued up a steep hill to a road. We were now walking between two ridges of hills with neatly tree-lined fields. The clouds were dramatic and we even saw a patch of blue ahead of us. After descending past a farm and going uphill again, we stopped for lunch on a farm road between two pastures of interested sheep. We spread my poncho and used our packs as backrests, eating lunch as the sun peeked out and warmed us a little.

After about a half-hour we started on our way again, leaving the road to climb a piney hill with vistas across the valley. We passed some cows who were munching a load of straw and went up over a forested hill.

The trail now was occasionally marked but as we descended the marker was confusing. We were unsure of the trail. It began to rain. We walked a long straight trail bordered by thickets which at one point was a puddle from one side to the other giving us little alternative but to dash through it. A little further on, we flushed three large rabbits which Phoebe would have enjoyed. After an interminable spell during which we were still uncertain of the trail, we found a marker pointing up hill into spruce woods.

It was now raining steadily. I decided to cut off the mountain trail ahead by a more direct smaller wood road. At first we ended up at a dead end with four abandoned cars, one of which was upside down. We backtracked and took another more overgrown path. However, the entire trail was a stream of water. We tottered on the mounds of grass on the side to keep out of the water. At one point the trail was a full pond and we navigated our packs through some dense piney woods. After a long wet stretch, the path rose uphill to a locked wooden gate leading to a cow pasture. I noticed that there were electric wires which gave us a trail between the two fields of cows and we took off our packs and made it over the gate. Leaving the swamp behind, we marched triumphantly out to the road and turned left on towards Inistioge. The traffic was whizzing by us, so I turned onto a park road through a woods which exited on a small road leading to town.

I saw a sign for an lookout point (200 meters) and, though we were tired, we went downhill to see it. The path led to the ruins of a castle-like building built in 1769 overlooking the Nore River (which flows south from Kilkenny) and Inistioge beyond. The view was spectacular and I took several pictures with dramatic clouds in the background.

After admiring the view, we descended stiffly by a path from the castle which led down to the Nore and into the center of town. A grocer told us we could get a bus to Kilkenny at 8:00 a.m. from across the square so we decided on the Woodstock Inn next door which would be close by. The price was a little steeper (€ 60) reflecting the popularity of the picturesque Inistioge.

We had started from Mullinavat at 9:10 a.m. and arrived Inistioge at 5:00 p.m. exactly. The trip was about 15 miles (and the one yesterday had been a little over 13).

After getting settled in our room, we decided to find some dinner, treading gently down the stairs due to our aches. We went across the street where there was a restaurant, but a sign in the window indicated it was closed for a private occasion. We continued down to the other restaurant in town – also closed. We had seen a sign for a third restaurant 500 meters outside town to which I walked under duress, only to find it too was closed.

On the way back we learned that the "private occasion" was the death of one of the pub owners in town. People and cars were everywhere. We passed by the first restaurant again and saw some of the staff outside the door. I asked if there was any sort of sandwich shop up the street and a pleasant woman – who turned out to be the wife of the owner – said she could fix us something simple if we could eat in half an hour when the wake crowd was to arrive. We thanked her and had hamburgers, fries and beer. When we finished we went over to O'Connell’s pub for another pint and, after watching the crowd (estimated by one bystander to be 1500 people), proceeded back to our room across the street.

Remembering the day.

Copyright 2002 Donald R. Chauncey - All rights reserved